Is the nature of warfare changed throughout history?

Image for post
Image for post
New wars. 2015. Geographical imaginations. https://geographicalimaginations.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/fp.jpeg.

Considerations about the changing nature of warfare (actors, outcome, technology, etc.) were always present during different periods of time in history. Nonetheless, in the last fifteen years, three specific notions have appeared as analytical tools for analyses: total war, spectator-sports war and new wars. The latter one is a concept first used by Mary Kaldor to describe a new type of warfare developed after the Cold war. According to her, the classical distinction between war (interstate), large-scale violations of human rights (against individuals) and organized crime (violence by private actors) does not exist anymore, due to the globalization.

This term of ‘new wars’ can be summarized by four essential characteristics: 1) conflicts happen between various combinations of state and non-state actors, 2) they are driven by identity politics rather than ideology, 3) the aim is no more a physical but a political control and 4) they are privately financed. That said, this thought of ‘newness’ in the nature of warfare is also widely criticized by scholars. So, one might legitimately ask the following question in order to understand this…


How can Europe get the Germany it needs?

Image for post
Image for post
Cartoon from Münchner Leuchtkugeln, 1848. German unity as fiasco with each state viewing itself separately.

Germany was the last country in Europe to achieve its unification, and it paid the price for having achieved it so late. The “German Question” refers to that long believed idea that whenever unified, Germany becomes a threat for the whole world due to the peculiarity of the German character. This attitude has been conveyed by a body of scholarships and analytical writing that imputed the German Question to the German nature and unusual political culture. …


How did Thatcherism deal with the problem of Britain’s decline after WWII?

Image for post
Image for post
British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher points skyward as she receives standing ovation at the Conservative Party Conference in October, 1979. Reuters.

One of the long-term themes of British foreign policy in the 20th century is how to manage decline. There are two main issues in order to understand it: the sterling policy and the significance of Thatcherism with regards to the management of decline.

It is therefore essential to explain first what the sterling policy is, namely the commitment of the British leadership to defend the currency of pound sterling. And then, look at the main impacts of the sterling policy in two important areas of British foreign policy: imperial relations and British engagement with Europe. …


Why the Franco-German relationship is so important for the European integration process?

Image for post
Image for post
Napoleon III and Bismarck talk after Napoleon’s capture at the Battle of Sedan in 1870, by Wilhelm Camphausen. Bismarck, the Iron Chancellor’s life in 200 pictures.

The Franco-German relationship is of crucial importance for the European integration process. There are two main reasons for that: first, it is precisely the existence of an historically complex and conflicting relationship between the two countries that led to the inception of the integration process; second, following their own foreign and domestic policy interests, these two continental powers managed to coordinate and allowed each major step in the integration process thus establishing themselves as the engine of the system.

However, it shall not be neglected that this relationship was powerful in terms of integration outcomes because, by historical accident, there was a balance at the beginning. This is why serious changes regarding the nature of the relationship, more precisely in terms of power differential between the two, are deemed to have endangered the integration process. …


A figure of Roman law that poses existential questions about the nature of law and power

Image for post
Image for post
Dante and Virgil. William-Adolphe Bouguereau. 1850. Musée d’Orsay, Paris.

Homo sacer (Latin for “the sacred man”) is a status stemming from Roman law: it is a person who is excluded, who can be killed by anyone (qui occidit parricidi non damnatur), but who cannot be the subject of a human sacrifice during a religious ceremony (neque fas est eum immolari). This person has no longer any civil rights.

It is, with the primary rite of sacrifice, one of the founding elements of the magico-ritualist thought emerging in the history of Rome.

Origins


Explaining the shift from the Yoshida Doctrine to a ‘proactive contribution to peace’ in Japan after the Cold War

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Tianshu Liu on Unsplash

What makes Japanese foreign policy unique is its capability of adopting other cultures. They are able to adopt new concepts so quickly and so well while starting to behave as the original culture in question. In some cases, this might be viewed as an advantage whereas sometimes it also constitutes a handicap which led the country to pursue an aggressive foreign policy.

The Meiji restoration set the basis for an active and modern foreign policy with political, economic and military reforms inspired mostly from the Prussians. It was a success which elevated Japan to a great power status as a result of several wars — Sino-Japanese, Boxer and Russo-Japanese. …


How the Harmel report contributed to the East-West détente?

Image for post
Image for post
Left: Pierre Harmel, Belgian Minister. NATO photos. Ref. no: 6065/5. Source: https://www.nato.int/multi/photos/1967/m671213a.htm.

Pierre Harmel, Belgium’s foreign minister, initiated the ‘Harmel exercise’ in 1966 ‘to study the future tasks which face the Alliance, and its procedures for fulfilling them in order to strengthen the Alliance as a factor for a durable peace.’

On 13 December 1967, the report was presented at the Brussels meeting of the North Atlantic Council at a time when the existence of the Alliance was put into question. It was a time marked by an East-West détente; the breakdown of the deadlock between these two parts of the world. …


Have all conflicts a primarily material basis?

Part of scene 52 of the Bayeux Tapestry. This depicts mounted Normans attacking the Anglo-Saxon infantry.
Part of scene 52 of the Bayeux Tapestry. This depicts mounted Normans attacking the Anglo-Saxon infantry.
11th century unknown — Lucien Musset, “The Bayeux Tapestry”, 2005, Boydell Press, ISBN 1–84383–163–5, p. 237

The political economy of conflict is an interesting area of security studies which aims to analyse the link between money and war. It has several meanings: the fiscal foundations of war, the mobilization for conflict, financing and the motivation/goals of conflict.

The “greed versus grievance” refer to two arguments advanced by scholars to explain the causes of war. Greed stands for the claim that combatants in conflicts are motivated by opportunistic reasons — cost/benefit calculus, alternative income & risk. On the other hand, grievance refers to the idea that people rebel over issues of inequality, discrimination, authoritarianism, etc.

About

Mustafa K. Saygi

Homo sapiens | MA @IHEID | BA @UNIGEnews | LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/mustafakemalsaygi

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store